Public speaking: is the push to make students employable going too far?

Assessed presentations on courses from physics to philosophy are traumatising vulnerable students

Natasha Abrahart, a second-year physics student at Bristol University, killed herself last year on the day she was due to give a big assessed presentation. The 20-year-old, whose inquest is this week, had twice before tried to kill herself at university. Natasha suffered from acute social anxiety and had struggled with presentations in the past.

With employers emphasising the importance of communication skills, assessed presentations are now standard practice on university courses. Natasha was certainly not alone in feeling terrified about this sort of public speaking.

Related: A student’s death: did her university do enough to help Natasha Abrahart?

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